With the Championship taking its early season international break, you’d be forgiven for thinking this weekend’s EFL action could be a quiet one; but you couldn’t be any further from the truth.
League One took centre stage and provided all the thrills and spills we’re used to seeing with goals galore and late drama, as the early pacesetters showed their resilience in maintaining unbeaten starts with gritty performances.
All eyes in the third tier were once again on league leaders Peterborough, who restored their two point advantage over second place Portsmouth with a battling and frantic win at Southend.
Steve Evans’ men appeared to be cruising to another routine win at 2-0 up just short of the hour, but two goals from the hosts in twelve minutes pegged the Posh back.
Despite the disappointment of letting their lead slip however, it was the late show for Peterborough as they responded through summer signing Ivan Toney’s 87th minute winner.
The victory sees Posh continue their best ever start to a league season, whilst condemning Chris Powell’s side to their fourth league defeat of the campaign – and third at their Roots Hall home.
Just behind the Posh are Portsmouth who lose ground at the top, and needed a late goal of their own to avoid defeat for the first time in 2018-19.
Pompey went into the afternoon heavy favourites with the bookies to dispatch of their struggling opposition, winless Shrewsbury, but found themselves a goal down with just over a quarter of an hour remaining following a frustrating afternoon on the South Coast.
It was a poor display from Kenny Jackett’s men, but they salvaged a point with minutes to play as substitute Brett Pitman fired home from the penalty spot.
The four other teams making up the top six were playing each other, and all remarkably maintained their unbeaten starts with draws.
A late Walsall equaliser at Oakwell snatched a draw from Barnsley, whilst Sunderland could only pick up a point from a game that finished 1-1 against Joey Barton’s Fleetwood at the Stadium of Light.
Just outside of the top six, Doncaster, Charlton and Blackpool all closed the gap to the playoffs with a 2-1 win at home to Luton, and 3-2 wins against Wycombe and Bradford respectively.
The Bantams’ loss at Blackpool – which incredibly saw them throw away a two goal lead with less than ten minutes to play – was their third in succession, and not the ideal start for new boss David Hopkin. The West Yorkshire outfit remain just above the drop zone after a disappointing weekend for the four sides currently occupying those spots.
Like Shrewsbury, basement side Plymouth could only pick up a point on their travels as they drew a blank at Bristol Rovers who sit 21st, and Oxford’s chance to impress in front of the Sky cameras went begging as they lost 2-1 at home to Coventry in Sunday’s televised game.
Elsewhere, Accrington made it six games unbeaten as Billy Kee’s late penalty secured a draw with Burton, AFC Wimbledon ended their three-game losing streak thanks to Joe Pigott’s winner at Gillingham, and it was a goalfest at Glanford Park as Scunthorpe drew 3-3 with Rochdale.
It’s hotting up at the top of League Two as leaders Lincoln tasted defeat for the first time this season with a surprise 1-0 loss at home to mid-table side Crawley.
The Imps found themselves behind on the stroke of half-time due to Michael Bostwick’s own goal, and things got worse ten minutes after the interval when they lost skipper Lee Frecklington to a red card.
Danny Cowley’s men huffed and puffed, but couldn’t break down a resolute Crawley team who make the journey back down to West Sussex with their second win in three games.
Welsh side Newport were the main benefactors, as they continued their momentum with a 1-0 victory at Oldham that made it four wins in a row to draw level at the summit of the fourth tier.
Forest Green are the only side to have played seven games and not lost one due to Mansfield and MK Dons’ trips to Crewe and Yeovil being postponed because of international call-ups, but Mark Cooper’s team drop out of the playoffs after their ten men could only draw 1-1 at home to Port Vale, who pick up their first away point of the season and put an end to a three-game losing streak.
Carlisle and Swindon are two of the clubs who move into the top seven thanks to wins at Cambridge and Morecambe, whilst Colchester retain their playoff place with a 1-1 draw at Tranmere.
Exeter were the big winners of the weekend; jumping six places into an automatic promotion spot thanks to a 5-1 home mauling of Notts County, who continue to struggle at the bottom despite their change in manager.
It’s now six losses in a row for the Magpies who also saw Harry Kewell sent to the stands, and Macclesfield continue to accompany them in the bottom two after a narrow defeat to Stevenage.
Meanwhile, Bury hit two goals in each half to batter Grimsby 4-0 at Gigg Lane, and Cheltenham scored twice in the final fifteen minutes to win 3-1 away at Northampton and ease any early relegation fears.